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Posted: 3/18/2002 1:02:41 PM EDT
U.S. Forces Kill 16 in Attack on Suspected Enemy Convoy Operation Anaconda Ends in East Afghanistan By ROBERT BURNS .c The Associated Press WASHINGTON (March 18) - U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers attacked a convoy of three vehicles believed to be trying to ferry al-Qaida fighters out of the Shah-e-Kot Valley in eastern Afghanistan and killed 16 of them, U.S. military officers said Monday. In a separate incident, U.S. forces captured 31 suspected al-Qaida or Taliban fighters in a compound west of the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, officials said. They had no other details. The timing of this incident was unclear. The attack on Sunday wounded one enemy fighter, in addition to the 16 killed, and another was detained, Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa told a Pentagon briefing. There were no American casualties, said Rosa, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rosa also declared the latest two-week sweep against terrorists in eastern Afghanistan at end. ''Operation Anaconda is complete,'' the general said, noting that U.S. forces have searched some 30 caves and will continue to root out whatever Taliban or al-Qaida fighters might be remaining in the area. He said 500 members of coalition forces - mostly American - were still there, attempting to clear cave hide-outs. Asked to sum up Operation Anaconda's effort against the al-Qaida, Rosa said, ''We got them on the run. ... Did we shut down their entire communications? No. But it makes it much more difficult for them to do that.'' In the first incident, U.S. forces in helicopters fired warning shots at the three-vehicle convoy to force it to stop. People in the vehicles fired back, so U.S. ground forces attacked them and killed 16, Rosa said. He did not know how many were al-Qaida or Taliban or if they were senior in rank. A fourth vehicle traveling some distance behind the three-vehicle convoy was stopped by U.S. forces. Those in the vehicle were determined to be noncombatants - including women and children - and permitted to go free, Rosa said. The vehicles were attacked about 45 miles southwest of Gardez in Paktia province, Rosa said. Other officials said it appeared they were trying to escape the area where more than 2,000 U.S., Afghan and allied troops assaulted hundreds of al-Qaida fighters over a two-week period. That assault, called Operation Anaconda, was declared a major success Monday by Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. commander of forces in Afghanistan. In a news conference at Bagram air base, Franks told reporters he could not discuss the next stage in the fight against al-Qaida and Taliban holdouts but said, ''I believe that future operations may well be the size of Anaconda.'' In recent days, coalition forces have examined 30 caves, finding ammunition, clothing, supplies and sensitive documents, said Capt. Steven O'Connor, spokesman for the 10th Mountain Division. At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Anaconda was very successful and was winding down. She said there was no evidence that large numbers of al-Qaida had managed to escape that area, although she acknowledged it was likely that some did. AP-NY-03-18-02 1355EST
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 1:24:07 PM EDT
Link Posted: 3/18/2002 1:34:59 PM EDT
sweet. [heavy]
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